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String buzz...

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Goodkat, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    This is just me being curious, but I really want to ask everyone how do they put up with string buzz on their guitars.

    I played the MIM Strat until I sold it in 2007. and since then I've been playing Yamaha Pacifica 120S fitted with Seymour Duncan SH-2 (Jazz) and SH-4 (Jeff Beck) pickups, which is a setup I'm using till I get a new Strat (hopefully KWS model; hopefully soon). Overall, it's a decent guitar, but what I really want is a Stratocaster.

    I use 11 gauge strings (D'Addario 11-49) with high action: from 2mm on high E string at the 12th fret up to 2,9mm on low E string, and yes, you could say the action is pretty high, but this is what I really like. Neck relief is properly set. Frets are leveled fine. All this is checked by myself and a good friend of mine who is a guitar tech.

    So, what's the trouble? When I start to play hard (I play the blues and I really like each note to stand out which sometimes means plucking really hard) I hear a buzz on 2nd and 3rd string.

    Some people have no problem with this (either because they caress the strings really gently or because they simply don't care) but I've always felt it kills the tone (if only just a bit).

    How about other guitars I've tried? Recently I tried MIA Deluxe Stratocaster and one of those PRS SE guitars (not sure what model it was exactly) and they had almost no buzz with relatively similar action. Other then that, pretty much all the other guitars I've tried (mostly in 700-1500 Eur. price range) had the same problem as my guitars.

    So, how about you guys. What do you think about all this?
     
  2. StratSvante

    StratSvante Strat-Talker

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    It could be that some of the higher frets are taller and thats where the buzz comes from.. You also say that the neck relief is properly set, is it flat or does it have a little relief?

    myself, I hate buzz so I do everything i can to avoide it..
     
  3. thaus

    thaus Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    If you have had it checked out by a tech, you should be able to play buzz free for the most part. The bass strings oscillate a whole lot more than the others and when one really digs in, you may get buzz unless your action is super high. I would get the frets checked thoroughly above the 12th fret and also dial in more relief. You should be measuring the relief at the 17th fret...........a tiny amount makes a HUGE difference.......sometimes, taking some relief away will actually help matters if the problem lies above the 12th fret! Experiment a bit.........
     
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  5. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    @StratSvante:

    Neck has a slight relief (a slight bow if you will) so I'd say (again) it's set properly. You're right about tall frets, but that was taken care of long time ago. Too much neck relief and some tall frets caused problems from 12th to 22nd fret, but, as I said, it's been taken care of quite some time ago.

    @thaus:

    I have very little trouble with bass strings (knock on wood!). The 2nd and 3rd string buzz from 5th to about 11th fret.

    BTW, I'm not sure I understood what you meant about checking the relief at 17th fret? The numbers I mentioned in my first post were the measurements of the string height above 12th fret.

    And, yeah, I really like to dig in. But ... it's called dynamics in my book: when you play something that has a feel to it, you pluck the strings moderately; when you play a harder, faster tune with a lot of energy - you dig in.

    EDIT:

    Actually, I experimented A LOT with the setup of my guitar, so ... "a bit" is probably not something that would help me ... one bit. :)

    And ... using the pick from my avatar probably doesn't help either. :D
     
  6. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA LeftyStrategist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    That pick hurts my fingers just looking at it ~!
    Pick of choice Med (approx .75)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2009
  7. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    :D:D:D

    This is probably the coolest reply I've seen in a long time. You really cheered me up. :)

    Yeah, the pick is a bit hard, but the tone is really, really good. It has just the kind of attack I want.
     
  8. Jefro

    Jefro Senior Stratmaster

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    One thing I always ask is it buzzing throu the amplifier or is it simply acoustically ?

    Lots of people complain about acoustic buzz/rattle which to me doesn't matter since it wont ring throu on the amplifier.
     
  9. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Yes, that's the usual question and I probably should have written this in the first post: it's only heard when guitar is not played through the amp. I would guess that if you hear the buzz through the amplifier, the action is really, really, really, low.
     
  10. fretbuzzard

    fretbuzzard Former Member

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    A couple of thoughts:
    -If uneven frets were taken care of "some time ago" it may be time to have them dressed. Frets can rise seemingly at their own will, and fret wear in the lower frets can exacerbate problems further up the neck.

    -It may just be a matter of your playing style and the fretboard radii of the guitars you've tried. The Am Deluxe and the PRS should have pretty flat fretboards and relatively beefy frets. I'm not sure about the Pacifica, but different fretboard radii and frets will react differently to the same pick attack.
     
  11. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA LeftyStrategist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Another querstion would be do you tune to standard, or are you tuned down any steps ?
     
  12. Lobotomy Boy

    Lobotomy Boy Strat-O-Master

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    The neck on my MIJ Strat became too straight. When I bought the guitar the bridge was screwed down to the deck and no buzz. When I had the bridge set to float, I suddenly had terrible fret buzz (acoustically, not through the amp). The luthier ended up steaming the neck to get some relief to it. When I got it back it was mostly buzz free, except I can still get some buzz on the low E string if I'm a little sloppy fretting on barre chords at the fifth and seventh frets. It's forced me to be more precise.
     
  13. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Fretbuzzard, Pacifica has a 13.5" radius neck and frets are medium jumbo. Frets were checked couple of weeks ago and they were fine.

    The neck on American Deluxe isn't particularly beefy IMO but the neck on PRS SE is.

    @AllroyPA:

    It's a standard tuning, not even half step down.
     
  14. firesgt911

    firesgt911 Strat-Talker

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    Could be the .11's. maybe? The heavier gauge may be yank'n on that neck causing the buzz.

    Before I raise the action, I always adjust the neck and check the nut. Larger gauge strings don't always sit well in the nut.

    When I had some buzz on my semi-hollow body, I could hear it through the amp, so I raised the action a hair higher than I really like, buzz went away. On my strat, I have a little buzz unplugged, but not at all through an amp, so it is fine by me.
     
  15. fretbuzzard

    fretbuzzard Former Member

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    Well...
    If the frets have been leveled and the setup is good--the relief is appropriate, the nut is well-cut, no "ski ramp" from an overly-bowed neck, etc.,
    If the buzz is definitely coming from the frets and not from a loose screw anywhere,
    If the buzz gets worse the more you dig in, and you like to dig in...

    Then you will have to either raise the action more or live with buzzing. As you mentioned in your first post, higher action can mean better tone, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing :)
     
  16. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    @firesgt911:

    No, the 11s are certainly not the part of the problem (as they never could be) - they are the part of the solution. :)

    @fretbuzzard:

    Are you trying to convince me to live with some fret buzz? :D
     
  17. busted-e-again

    busted-e-again Strat-Talker

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    If you do bendy blues with the 2nd and 3rd strings, you could have dug yourself a low flat spot on the frets in the middle of the neck, and then the end of the fretboard where it mounts to the body is too high compared to the dip and buzzes, especially if you are setting string height from the low place in the middle. Even if the neck ends up perfectly flat, you might benefit from having some 'fall away' sanded into the frets 16-21 (like some acoustics do) so the dusty end has more string height so they don't fret out when you dig in, without making all the action higher.

    I'm still trying to figure out a clever way to find out which frets cause the buzz when it's all over the string. I think I had a tapping method for high frets to make the high fret sing it's note, but then I either forgot it or it didn't work too good. Like chalk on the frets and the buzzing rubs it off or something...
     
  18. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    That's a good point, but it's not the case with my guitar. Yes, I do bendy blues, but I've not dug a "hole" ... yet. :)
     
  19. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA LeftyStrategist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Yea, change the strings and snap a blue line down the biatches ! LOL
    Maybe your nut needs to be shimmed a touch taller
     
  20. Goodkat

    Goodkat The One Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Why the nut guys, I don't hear a string buzz on open strings?

    I'm having some trouble with 3rd and 2nd string (second string really buzzes just a little) when fretting notes from around 5th to ... say ... 14th fret.
     
  21. AllroyPA

    AllroyPA LeftyStrategist Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Try this, take a screwdriver and wrap your polish rag around it from the base of the neck slide it up your fretboard under your strings up to the first fret raising your strings up off your nut. Then take a low tack piece of thin tape and place it over your nut, this will raise the action at the nut just a touch, play it and see if it helps the buzz. If it does then shim under the nut would be your answer. This is a temporary thing, I am not recommending you play with tape on your nuts ... LOL
     

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